Loera, Jr. v. Bishop

Filing 11

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT for Failure to State a Claim, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND signed by Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin on 9/15/2017. First Amended Complaint due within thirty (30) days. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint Form). (Jessen, A)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JOSE LUIS LOERA, JR., 12 Plaintiff, 13 vs. 14 BISHOP, et al., 15 Defendants. 1:17-cv-00203-AWI-GSA-PC SCREENING ORDER ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 1.) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE FOR PLAINTIFF TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT 16 17 ORDER FOR CLERK TO SEND PLAINTIFF A CIVIL COMPLAINT FORM 18 19 20 21 I. BACKGROUND 22 Jose Luis Loera, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma 23 pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On February 13, 2017, 24 Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff’s Complaint is now before the court for screening. 25 26 II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT 27 The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 28 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). 1 1 The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are 2 legally “frivolous or malicious,” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or 3 that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. 4 § 1915A(b)(1),(2). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been 5 paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action or 6 appeal fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 7 A complaint is required to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing 8 that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are 9 not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 10 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell 11 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff’s allegations are 12 taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart 13 Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 14 To state a viable claim, Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 15 ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. 16 Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as 17 true, legal conclusions are not. Id. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting 18 this plausibility standard. Id. 19 III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT 20 Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, California, 21 in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The events at 22 issue in the Complaint allegedly occurred at the Fresno County Jail when Plaintiff was housed 23 there in the custody of the Fresno County Sheriff. Plaintiff names as defendants Sheriff’s 24 Deputies Bishop, John Doe #1, and John Doe #2. 25 Plaintiff’s allegations follow, in their entirety. 26 I was housed in Ad-Seg Unit (lockdown unit) and the floor Sheriff Deputies (John Doe #1 & John Doe #2) were supposed to do their security walk-through in order to make sure the unit was secure, before proceeding with each new shower and/or opening the doors. In failing to follow their own guidelines (Fresno Co. Jail), my cell door was opened by the tower deputy Bishop who is 27 28 2 in control of both locking up each inmate and unlocking each inmate’s door from the tower controls. I was assaulted by 3 other inmates who were hiding in the day room and not locked up in their cells due to both floor and tower deputies not doing their jobs. During this assault, I was brutally and savagely attacked with razor blades to my face and neck areas, which left life-changing scars all over. By the time the deputies came, I was covered in blood and ripped open. Due to the lack of their duties, I suffered cuts with razors to my face and neck numerous times, and was physically assaulted by 3 inmates, which left black eyes, busted mouth, nose, pain, suffering, permanent psychological distress, and emotional distress. 1 2 3 4 5 6 (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff requests monetary damages. 7 IV. PLAINTIFF’S EIGHTH AMENDMENT CLAIM 8 The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides: 9 Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . . 10 11 12 13 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 14 “[Section] 1983 ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights,’ but merely provides ‘a 15 method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.’” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 16 393-94 (1989) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)); see also Chapman 17 v. Houston Welfare Rights Org., 441 U.S. 600, 618 (1979); Hall v. City of Los Angeles, 697 18 F.3d 1059, 1068 (9th Cir. 2012); Crowley v. Nevada, 678 F.3d 730, 734 (9th Cir. 2012); 19 Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006). “To the extent that the violation of 20 a state law amounts to the deprivation of a state-created interest that reaches beyond that 21 guaranteed by the federal Constitution, Section 1983 offers no redress.” Id. 22 To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under 23 color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived him or her of rights secured by the 24 Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 25 2006); see also Marsh v. Cnty. of San Diego, 680 F.3d 1148, 1158 (9th Cir. 2012) (discussing 26 “under color of state law”). A person deprives another of a constitutional right, “within the 27 meaning of § 1983, ‘if he does an affirmative act, participates in another’s affirmative act, or 28 omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which 3 1 complaint is made.’” Preschooler II v. Clark Cnty. Sch. Bd. of Trs., 479 F.3d 1175, 1183 (9th 2 Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). “The requisite 3 causal connection may be established when an official sets in motion a ‘series of acts by others 4 which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict’ constitutional 5 harms.” Preschooler II, 479 F.3d at 1183 (quoting Johnson, 588 F.2d at 743). This standard of 6 causation “closely resembles the standard ‘foreseeability’ formulation of proximate cause.” 7 Arnold v. Int’l Bus. Mach. Corp., 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981); see also Harper v. City 8 of Los Angeles, 533 F.3d 1010, 1026 (9th Cir. 2008). 9 The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and 10 from inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th 11 Cir. 2006). Although prison conditions may be restrictive and harsh, prison officials must 12 provide prisoners with food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety. 13 Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-33 (1994) (internal citations and quotations omitted). 14 Prison officials have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect inmates from physical abuse. 15 Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833; Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir. 2005). The failure 16 of prison officials to protect inmates from attacks by other inmates may rise to the level of an 17 Eighth Amendment violation where prison officials know of and disregard a substantial risk of 18 serious harm to the plaintiff. E.g., Farmer, 511 U.S. at 847; Hearns, 413 F.3d at 1040. 19 To establish a violation of this duty, the prisoner must establish that prison officials 20 were “deliberately indifferent to a serious threat to the inmate=s safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 21 834. The question under the Eighth Amendment is whether prison officials, acting with 22 deliberate indifference, exposed a prisoner to a sufficiently “substantial risk of serious harm” to 23 his future health. Id. at 843 (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 35 (1993)). The 24 Supreme Court has explained that “deliberate indifference entails something more than mere 25 negligence . . . [but] something less than acts or omissions for the very purpose of causing harm 26 or with the knowledge that harm will result.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. The Court defined this 27 “deliberate indifference” standard as equal to “recklessness,” in which “a person disregards a 28 risk of harm of which he is aware.” Id. at 836-37. 4 1 The deliberate indifference standard involves both an objective and a subjective prong. 2 First, the alleged deprivation must be, in objective terms, “sufficiently serious.” Id. at 834. 3 Second, subjectively, the prison official must “know of and disregard an excessive risk to 4 inmate health or safety.” Id. at 837; Anderson v. County of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1313 (9th Cir. 5 1995). To prove knowledge of the risk, however, the prisoner may rely on circumstantial 6 evidence; in fact, the very obviousness of the risk may be sufficient to establish knowledge. 7 Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842; Wallis v. Baldwin, 70 F.3d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1995). 8 Plaintiff has demonstrated that he was at substantial risk of serious harm because three 9 inmates were not locked in their cells, and instead were hiding in the day room with razor 10 blades waiting to attack him. However, Plaintiff has not shown that any of the Defendants 11 acted with deliberate indifference when they failed to prevent the inmates from attacking 12 Plaintiff. Plaintiff has not alleged that any of the Defendants knew of the substantial risk to 13 Plaintiff and yet ignored the risk when they failed to secure the area and opened Plaintiff’s cell 14 door. At most, Plaintiff states a claim for negligence, which is not actionable under § 1983. 15 Also, Plaintiff is advised that his two “John Doe” defendants must be named or 16 otherwise identified before service can go forward. “As a general rule, the use of ‘John Doe’ to 17 identify a defendant is not favored.” Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 642 (9th Cir. 1980). 18 Plaintiff is advised that John Doe or Jane Doe defendants cannot be served by the United States 19 Marshal until Plaintiff has identified them as actual individuals and amended his complaint to 20 substitute names for John Doe or Jane Doe. For service to be successful, the Marshal must be 21 able to identify and locate defendants. 22 Plaintiff shall be granted leave to file an amended complaint to address the deficiencies 23 in his claim. 24 V. CONCLUSION AND ORDER 25 The court finds that Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state any claim upon which relief may 26 be granted under § 1983. The court will dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim and 27 give Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint addressing the issues described above. 28 /// 5 1 Under Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[t]he court should freely 2 give leave to amend when justice so requires.” Accordingly, the court will provide Plaintiff an 3 opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified above. Lopez v. 4 Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff is granted leave to file the First 5 Amended Complaint within thirty days. 6 The First Amended Complaint must allege facts showing what each named defendant 7 did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); Iqbal, 8 556 U.S. at 678; Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). 9 demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights by his 10 Plaintiff must or her actions. Id. at 676-77 (emphasis added). 11 Plaintiff should note that although he has been given the opportunity to amend, it is not 12 for the purpose of changing the nature of this suit or adding unrelated claims. George v. Smith, 13 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no “buckshot” complaints). Furthermore, Plaintiff is not 14 granted leave to add allegations of events occurring after the date he filed the Complaint, 15 February 13, 2017. 16 Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supercedes the original complaint, Lacey 17 v. Maricopa County, 693 F 3d. 896, 907 n.1 (9th Cir. 2012), and it must be complete in itself 18 without reference to the prior or superceded pleading, Local Rule 220. Therefore, in an 19 amended complaint, as in an original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each 20 defendant must be sufficiently alleged. The amended complaint should be clearly and boldly 21 titled “First Amended Complaint,” refer to the appropriate case number, and be an original 22 signed under penalty of perjury. 23 Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 24 1. 25 Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim, with leave to amend; 26 2. 27 /// 28 The Clerk’s Office shall send Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form; /// 6 1 3. Plaintiff is granted leave to file a First Amended Complaint curing the 2 deficiencies identified by the court in this order, within thirty (30) days from 3 the date of service of this order; 4 4. 5 6 Plaintiff shall caption the amended complaint “First Amended Complaint” and refer to the case number 1:17-cv-00203-AWI-GSA-PC; and 5. 7 If Plaintiff fails to file a First Amended Complaint within thirty days, this case shall be dismissed for failure to state a claim. 8 9 10 11 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: September 15, 2017 /s/ Gary S. Austin UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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